GEOMETRY AND "POINT OF VIEW"
by Adi Da Samraj
Cézanne once stated something to the effect that the making of the structure of an image can be understood in terms of cylinders, cones, and spheres. All those are curved, three-dimensional forms. So Cézanne thought in three-dimensional and curvilinear terms. While this statement is not entirely representative of how Cézanne made images, much has been made of that statement by modernists, who have often made images based on geometric concepts of some kind or another. But it is a plastic concept, a continuation of the academic tradition, even of the traditional understanding of how to build up a picture. It is not an understanding of reality itself.
Cézanne only made this remark one time, and he did not mean he was literally making images that are made of cylinders, cones, and spheres. It was just a reference he made in a letter to somebody about how to build up a basic structural form tacitly—not actually making a picture of cones, spheres, and cylinders—and then fill it in. It was not anything like that, but (rather) merely a general sense of structure. That was part of the academic tradition.
My own artistic work with squares, circles, and triangles—or linear, curvilinear, and angular—is another matter. My artistic work is about the structure of conditionally manifested reality, the structure of perception, the structure of brain-controlled awareness or perception. My artistic work also relates to the fundamental structure of conditionally manifested reality in the human scale—gross, subtle, and causal—with the linear (or square) being associated with the gross, the curvilinear (or circle) with the subtle, and the angular (or triangle) with the causal. It is a different understanding altogether, although it does recall something of the remark Cézanne made, which modernists have made much of.
When I was a boy, I used to watch Jon Gnagy, who was an art teacher on television at the time, and I got this kit that you could order. Jon Gnagy would draw an image—for example, a house in the woods by a stream—and make it out of fundamental shapes, then shade or round them, and so forth. In other words, he was building up a picture using geometry. He was continuing this tradition, this notion—something of the modernist tradition altogether. Thus, I was getting artistic training in the tradition of modernism, and in the mode of Cézanne particularly—without the names being mentioned, without saying anything about modernism. It was just art-school picture-making—while, in fact, this approach was based on the modernist tradition and Cézanne’s remark, although Cézanne himself did not actually make paintings using these forms. He was just talking about a way of understanding (from an academic perspective) something about how to generate a sense of how you build up a picture or an image.
Unlike the impressionists, Cézanne was not interested in merely responding to what colors were coming to the eye. He was interested in thinking structure and making structure—of color, rather than of lines—seeing the surface not as a flat continuity, but still based on the three-dimensional “point of view”. There are many different “points of view” reflected in Cézanne’s images. Each day, he would change his position—standing over here, looking at a bowl from above, or straight on, or whatever. He painted it as it looked that day, because that was his perception. He wanted to see what he was seeing. Working from different “points of view” was not so much because he had a modernist understanding of the attempt to transcend perspective. Cézanne was a realist. It is just that he moved around. Sometimes his fruits would get overripe, so he would be working on painting a pot, after the fruit in it had rotted, and be doing the pot from a different place. He had to really be seeing it as it was in front of him at the moment. That was the reason why he changed his “point of view”, while a modernist would work intentionally on changing the “point of view” of different aspects of the image.
My own artistic work is about transcending the position of egoity (or “point of view”) altogether. While something of the dialogue of modernism in Cézanne is associated with the image-work I do, those who are considering this seriously should see and understand the profundity of the difference, also. They should understand the particularity of this summation of what I am doing. What I am saying is this: It is not “point of view”, not “point” in space and time, but reality itself that is the basis for the images I am making, the entire process of image-making that I am developing. It is not “point of view”—as if, for instance, to make a circle, you would point a compass point down and then rotate the pencil or the inscribing material to make a circle from that point, or that you would have to measure the circumference around a point by multiples of pi, which is an irrational number. If the natural world was based on measuring circles using pi as the measure, the natural world would never have happened! It would not be happening now, because pi is not a precisely determinable number.
In that case, how is everything happening? Conditionally manifested reality is self-organized spherically—not from the “point” that views it, but from the totality of the happening. That is the “position” of the imagery that I am making. That is the “position” of the process of making imagery in which I am involved. Therefore, I call it “non-subjective” image-art. It is not “point-of-view” art. It is not merely multiple-“point-of-view” art—whatever the appearance may be, or whatever it may suggest relative to ordinary perception. There is some suggestion of that kind, of course—but it is egoless, not “point-of-view” art.
However, in the image-art I make, I do comment on “point of view”. I reflect it, and demonstrate the force of reality relative to what is otherwise “point-of-view” perception. There are many elements of meaning and many visual characteristics in the images I make, but it is not based on generating circles or spheres from “point of view”. It is based on how reality is self-organized spherically—prior to “point of view”, prior to a center or a “point” from which to view it or generate it.
The illusion of egoity is that, somehow, the world is being generated from your own position, or being shown to your position. That suggests the idea that the human being must make the measure of reality and control it—whereas reality is actually self-generated, beyond “point of view”, beyond control, prior to “point of view”, prior to control, prior to separateness. You could say the work I am doing is “Reality-Art”, or (as I call it) “Transcendental Realism”—not the realism of conventional perception, such as Cézanne, for instance, was considering.
Copyright © 2007 ASA. All rights reserved. Perpetual copyright claimed.
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